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Communication Dans Un Congrès Année : 2017

Bailer uncertainty evaluation in a lithium salar deposit

Serge Antoine Séguret
Patrick Goblet
Elisabeth Cordier
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In salar-type deposits, lithium grades can be measured by bailers introduced at different elevations in the drill holes at locations where, later, the brine will be pumped out to recover the metal. When they are duplicated, these a priori rudimentary measurements may show large differences without indicating whether this is due to the procedure itself or to some physical causes linked to the dynamic behaviour of the salar (seasonality, rainfall, underground flow etc). In the reservoir presented in the paper, the problem is complicated by the double lack of stationarity of the lithium grades: the grades not only increase importantly with the depth but at the same time their fluctuations decrease, making it necessary to use non-stationary geostatistical techniques to simulate them. Reservoir simulation is developed in two steps: first, geostatistical simulations of the lithium grade create possible realisations of the reservoir; then, each geostatistical simulation is followed by a pumping simulation that calculates, at each drill hole of a given extraction scenario, the lithium produced each year over 40 years. For the set of 100 simulations produced in this way, a scenario reduction is made to choose the five most representative simulations where more complex calculations will be carried out (for example, changing hydrogeological parameters such as porosity and permeability, or the elevation of the filters, the number and the location of the pumping and the reinjection drill holes etc). The paper first presents an analysis of the geostatistical model sensitivity to the grade uncertainty when measured by bailer. Among the 100 measurements at our disposal covering the future production domain, 50 per cent are duplicates measured at the same place but at different times. They are randomly sampled to produce five subsets of 75 values, which will constitute the future 3D conditioning points for the geostatistical analysis and the simulations. For each subset, trend, standard deviation and variogram models are fitted, leading to five sets of 20 geostatistical simulations of grades. In this way, the reliability of the different parameters involved in the procedure is evaluated, as well as its impact on the pumping results. Then, a reconciliation study is conducted between the non-stationary nugget effects encountered in the 3D variograms of the lithium grade and a pure statistical analysis of 25 duplicates measured at different locations and/or different times. The result is that if the nugget effect reaches 20 per cent, which is the case of three conditioning subsets out of five, the reconciliation is good and the nugget effect of the variogram model represents the bailer uncertainty, ie the measurement error. Since the geostatistical simulation incorporates a nugget effect, it handles the bailer uncertainty and the impact on the produced metal is included in the evaluation. The final conclusion is that, after the hydrogeological pumping simulations, the initial differences between the five geostatistical models do not influence the final results: lithium grades measured by bailers can lead to a robust evaluation of the extractable resources, a conclusion that conflicts with conventional wisdom.
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Dates et versions

hal-01531976 , version 1 (02-06-2017)


  • HAL Id : hal-01531976 , version 1


Serge Antoine Séguret, Patrick Goblet, Elisabeth Cordier, Alain Galli. Bailer uncertainty evaluation in a lithium salar deposit. 8th World Conference on Sampling and Blending (WCSB8), ausimm, May 2017, Perth, Australia. ⟨hal-01531976⟩
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